2004 College Football Season Preview

TheInsiders.com previews the upcoming 2004 college football season, with a look at every team in the major conferences. <br><br>UCLA will try to put Karl Dorrell's program on the right track after having a disappointing season in his first year at the helm. UCLA does have star power with the likes of acrobatic wide receiver <b>Craig Bragg</b>, athletic linebacker <b>Justin London</b> and explosive tailback <b>Maurice Drew</b>...

Head Coach: Karl Dorrell (2nd year, 6-7)

Last Season's Record: 6-7 (4-4, T-6th in Pac-10)

Last Bowl Appearance: 2003 Silicon Valley Bowl (17-9 loss to Fresno St.)

Key matchup(s): Sept. 4 Oklahoma St., Sept. 18 @UW, Oct. 16 @Cal, Dec. 4 USC.

Star Power: SR WR Craig Bragg, 6-1, 200; JR TE Marcedes Lewis, 6-6, 250; SO RB Maurice Drew, 5-9, 200; JR LB Justin London, 6-2, 235; SR FS Ben Emanuel, 6-3, 210.

Notable Additions: DE Kyle Morgan, 6-3, 260, JC Transfer; DE Brigham Harwell, 6-1, 250, Hacienda Heights (Calif.) Los Altos; OL Shannon Tevaga, 6-3, 295, La Mirada (Calif.) High.

Notable Subtractions: DE Dave Ball, DT Rodney Leisle, LB Brandon Chillar, CB Matt Ware.

Notable Returnees: SR WR Tab Perry is trying to get re-instated academically; JR QB Drew Olson, SR TB Manuel White; JR LB Spencer Havner; JR DT C.J. Niusulu; JR SS Jarrad Page.

09/04/04Oklahoma State
10/02/04San Diego State
10/23/04@Arizona State
11/06/04Washington State
12/04/04Southern California
Offensive Overview: The UCLA offense had one of its worst years in recent memory in 2003, averaging just 294 yards per game, which got it ranked 110th out of 113 Division I-AA teams. The Bruins had problems with a weak and thin offensive line and some breakdowns in the offensive scheme. They tried to remedy the problem in the off-season when they let go offensive coordinator Steve Axman and offensive line coach Marc Weber and gave both positions to Tom Cable, the former head coach at Idaho. Early returns are that Cable is working wonders, getting the OL stronger and putting new dimensions into the offense. The success of the team will depend on the offense showing improvement from last season, particularly from JR QB Drew Olson, who had a good spring and off-season. UCLA has talent at the skill positions, with RBs Manuel White and Maurice Drew, WR Craig Bragg and TE Marcedes Lewis. It's just a matter of whether Cable can tweak Dorrell's offense well enough to exploit them.

Defensive Overview: The defense will have a hard time replacing some all-conference veterans, such as Dave Ball, Rod Leisle, and Brandon Chillar. In fact, it lost six of its seven top defensive linemen from last year. In addition, it also lost two other DLs in the off-season who would have figured prominently in the two-deep, one to a knee injury and another to academics. The linebackers return some stars in juniors Justin London and Spencer Havner. The backfield took a big hit when cornerback Matt Ware bypassed his senior year for the NFL. In other words, UCLA's defense, which has been its stalwart for the last couple of years, is a bit of a mystery heading into 2004. Some new names, like JC transfer DE Kyle Morgan, JR DT C.J. Niusulu and possibly JR CB Nnamdi Ohaeri will have to pick up the slack. There is talent, but depth in the front seven is thin, so staying healthy for the defense is key.

Special Teams Overview: UCLA returns one of the best kicking duos in the conference, with senior punter Chris Kluwe, who averaged 42.9 yards per punt, and sophomore placekicker Justin Medlock, who was 14-of-19 for the season. UCLA did well returning kicks and punts, with Maurice Drew exhibiting some flair for kick-off returns. It did struggle, though, in punt return coverage, something the coaching staff has indicated in the off-season it will try to rectify.

The Bruins can win eight games this season if... it can get more production out of its offense, particularly its offensive line. UCLA's offense was considered very conservative a season ago and Cable is expected to spice things up a bit, hopefully able to do so with better OL play. The thin defense will have to avoid injury, especially to its front seven. UCLA's schedule also is pretty favorable, with no non-conference opponents that would conceivably be top 25 teams.

TheInsiders.com 2004 College Football Preview
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